Bill Russell died over the weekend. Russell played – and was a player coach – with the Boston Celtics from 1956 to 1969. He and his teammates won 11 NBA Championships in that time span. When folks “debate” about which of the great players was greater, there is one of Russell’s stats that is unassailable:
- In his career, he played in 21 games where it was “win-or-go-home”. These games were in the NCAA Tournament, the Olympics and in Game 7 of an NBA playoff series. In those 21 games, Russell’s team record was 21-0.
In addition, Bill Russell was an advocate for civil rights at a time when very few athletes of any minority group took a public position on such issues. Bill Russell was a great basketball player and a great person.
Rest in peace, Bill Russell.
Since I mentioned the Olympics above, let me transition to a report that France’s preparation for the 2024 Summer Games could wind up costing the country €10B. Inflation is a driver here and that estimate could turn out to be very conservative if the worst fears about inflation come to pass. The initial estimate for prep costs was €6.8B; early cost estimates for things such as the Olympics are always understated and even before inflation hit, that estimate was increased to €8.6B. One of the cost elements is the plan to have 11,000 police officers on the ground in the venues and the housing areas every day and the plan calls for up to 25,000 “security agents” to be available each day in addition to those police officers.
An interesting planning element for the Paris Games is to stage the opening ceremonies on the river Seine instead of in a giant stadium. Organizers hope to attract as many as 600,000 people to view those Opening Ceremonies. Boats will transport the athletes from the various countries down the river past the viewers; approximately 10,500 athletes are expected to participate in the Games so there could easily be an interesting “traffic jam” on the river that day.
One other Olympics note today, the 2028 Summer Games will be held in Los Angeles. Host countries usually propose the addition of a new sport to the Games and seek IOC approval for such new endeavors. The organizers in LA – with the urging and backing of the NFL to be sure – has proposed flag football as a sport for those Summer Games in 2028. A ruling from the IOC is expected later this year.
Not that it needs any assistance, but IOC approval here would be a big plus for the NFL. One of its objectives has been to “grow the sport” outside the US; that is why we have “London Games” and “Mexico City Games” that is why there will be a “Germany Game” later this season. The inclusion of flag football in the Olympics would sow seeds of potential interest in lots of countries where the NFL would be loathe to schedule any regular season games for lack of interest and/or for lack of economic return. A positive decision by the IOC on flag football as an Olympic event could be interesting to follow.
The NFL story of the day is that the arbiter hearing the Deshaun Watson disciplinary case has imposed a 6-game suspension for Watson’s alleged off-field improprieties. This is not necessarily the final decision on the matter; any of the parties may appeal this ruling and if that happens, the final decision will be made by Commissioner Goodell. The NFLPA has said that it will not appeal the suspension; my sense is that Watson and his legal team would be playing with fire if they were to appeal the decision given that the NFLPA has said it will not; the key element here would seem to be the league itself. I wonder if enough owners are sufficiently angry with the Browns for giving Watson that huge and fully guaranteed contract that they might push for a league appeal that could lead to a bigger suspension. Stand by…
Moving along … If you recall the book and its companion movie, Moneyball, the underlying thesis for team construction is to spend money wisely to overachieve expectations. No one associated with the Washington Nationals can invoke that sort of “smart spending model” as of this morning. Consider:
- Fifteen MLB teams – that is half of all the teams – have lower payrolls than do the Washington Nationals. [Hat Tip to Spotrac.com]
- Right now, the Nationals have the worst record in MLB at 35-68; they are 3.5 games worse than the 29th team in MLB – – the Oakland A’s.
That is not exactly an efficient outlay of payroll…
Finally, here is an item from Dwight Perry’s column, Sideline Chatter, in the Seattle Times, from yesterday:
“The Mariners have released pitcher Daniel Ponce de Leon.
“So much for the team’s hopes of getting younger.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………